NEWARK — Everyone must decide if they want to be successful in life.
So says Krista Lewis, NCSD’s Assistant Superintendent for Business, who was the guest speaker at the eighth annual Academic Excellence Dinner November 19 in the Newark High School cafeteria.
Though her words were spoken in her characteristically soft tone, they were powerful and worth heeding.
“Success does not come without deliberate, focused pursuit and opportunity is most often disguised as hard work,“ Lewis told grades 10, 11, and 12 students who earned an average of 90 or better during each quarter last year and were being recognized for their outstanding achievement.
“Tonight, we honor our students who have recognized the opportunities that hard work brings, and who have persevered and remained focused on opening the doors to these opportunities,” Lewis said, noting however, it was not just students’ academic prowess being lauded, but also the traits they have in common that lead to their success.
“Traits such as curiosity, open-mindedness, willingness to be engaged. Intelligence and of course, a capacity for hard work,” she continued. “But two other qualities stand out too.
• “Ambition. By this, I don’t mean a desire to be famous or make a lot of money, but rather a willingness to try to do something great in whatever you do. For the best students, an assignment is not just simply a requirement to be met, but an opportunity to test and strengthen themselves _ to learn and to grow at becoming the best they can be.
• “Humility. At first glance, humility may seem to be the opposite of ambition, but humility, in the best students, sits in perfect balance with ambition.
“The best students have the confidence to push themselves to be the best they can be, but they are humble enough to know that there is always more to learn. Life is short, and learning takes a long time, and learning and growing are lifetime skills that will never quite fully be accomplished or finalized. Humility is the spark that allows us to become these lifelong learners.”
Lewis, of Newark, became the new Assistant for Curriculum and Instruction in September, replacing Yvonne Saner, who retired in June. Prior to her appointment, she had served as the district’s Director of Pupil Services since February 2008.
In her introduction of Lewis as guest speaker of the event, Chelsey Cook, NHS Participation in Government teacher, who this year chairs the NHS Rewards and Incentives Committee that hosts the annual dinner, said: “This year Newark was delighted to announce that Ms. Lewis would become our Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction,” — a position, she said, requires someone who is dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate.”
“Ms. Lewis exemplifies each of these qualities and much more.Despite numerous responsibilities, she always has a clear focus on student learning,” Cook said. “We are lucky to have her as our Assistant Superintendent for Curriculumand Instruction.”
Prior to becoming NCSD’s Director of Pupil Services, Lewis served as the High School Assistant Principal for the Williamson School District from November 2005 until February 2008. Before that she was the grades 9-12 Coordinator of Special Education for the Rush- Henrietta School District from July 2005 until November 2005.
Lewis began her teaching career in the Williamson School District in 1996 where she was a special education teacher for a year. During the 1997-98 school year, she was a special education itinerant teacher with Clinical Associates of the Finger Lakes. From 1998 until 2004, she was a grades 3-8 special education teacher in the NCSD. During that time she also served as Supervisor of Special Education at Kelley School from 2000 until 2004.
During the 2004-05 school year, she served as an administrative intern with the NCSD. Her duties included being an assistant to the former Kelley School Principal Chris Mizro and also an assistant to the Director of Pupil Services, who at that time was Yvonne Saner.
Lewis received her certificate in advanced study degree from SUNY Oswego; her master’s degree in special education from Nazareth College; and her bachelor’s degree in speech and language pathology/audiology from SUNY Geneseo.
Near the end of her talk at the dinner, Lewis shared two quotes she hoped would inspire honorees during the remainder of this school year “to continue to strive to reach beyond what you have already accomplished.”
The first is: “It is only when you are at full stretch that you can reach your full potential,” she said.
“Commit yourselves to giving your full effort. If you think you know where your limits are, push yourself beyond them. When you feel like you’ve put your full effort into a task, give just a little bit more. The more you stretch yourself, the more you challenge yourself, the more your capacity to perform well will increase. Don’t get to the end of this school year and wish you’d done more. Stretch and challenge yourself with your school work, music, art, sports and community service, _with all of your endeavors, _and you’ll see results that you never thought possible.
“The second quote is, ‘Only those who attempt the absurd are capable of achieving the impossible,’” she continued.
“If you have a dream, go after it. If people are telling you that you can’t or that it’s not possible, prove them wrong. Just because you haven’t achieved at a certain level before, or haven’t gotten that grade you are striving for on an exam before, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.
“Dream big, aim high and then work hard to achieve your goals. Anyone who has achieved anything significant in their lives hasn’t waited for other people to tell them what to do. They’ve motivated themselves and pushed themselves beyond what most people consider normal and the results when that happens are truly amazing.
“So my encouragement to each of you this year is to set big goals, challenge yourself to achieve more than you’ve ever achieved before and then work hard to make it happen. Use the supports that are available to you, be resources to those around you, and continue on the path that you have begun- one of success and achievement that will lead to many opportunities for you to reach your dreams,” Lewis continued. “Congratulations to all of you, as well as to your parents who provide so much support to you. We are all so proud of your accomplishments.”
Dinner guests including Superintendent Matt Cook, NHS Principal Tom Roote; Assistant Principal Nick Ganster; Board of Education President Yvonne MacTaggart and Board members Tom Ledbetter and Andy Correia; as well as teachers, students, parents and other district staff attending and serving at the dinner affirmed Lewis’ sentiments with hearty applause.
After she spoke, Roote also commended the NHS students on their academic achievements and also their parents, for the role they have played in their childrens’ success.
Then he and Ganster presented students with certificates of recognition for their academic achievement.
In all, 64 students met the academic requirements for the award, but not all were able to attend.
A highlight of fall at NHS, the Academic Excellence Dinner not only recognizes academic achievement, but also reflects the hard work and generosity “of our co-workers at the High School for their time, talent and treasure,” Cook said. “This year our staff sponsored student dinners, made financial donations and helped decorate.”
Tammy Garrett, Shane Surek, Elaine Esan, Jan Fellenz and Mark DeYoung were the faculty servers at the dinner in the cafeteria that was decorated with a fall theme.
Cook thanked NHS cafeteria supervisor Michele Backus and her staff for preparing the meal, and parents, Board of Education members and administrators for attending for “being here tonight to celebrate all of these wonderful and deserving individuals.”
She also noted that students who had been recognized for two or more consecutive years at the Academic Awards dinner also received a winter sports pass that will allow them to attend all winter sporting events for free.